Tl;dr: Instagram is actively pulling down fundraiser requests, relief work requests, and anti-establishment stories/ posts/ DM chats criticizing the government over mishandling of the pandemic and related to the central vista project that is being shared by users.
Over the past few days, users have reported that their stories, in which they share graphic images of hospitals/ cremation grounds/ central vista work; satirical/ comical posts mocking the government; cartoons of Ministers; etc. are getting auto-deleted.
Usually, the story is auto removed only when the post that is shared on the story is deleted by the page/ user or pulled down by IG for violation of community guidelines, but in this case, while the original post was not removed, the story was.
There are also instances where folks who are putting up stories for fundraisers and are amplifying relief requests are being pulled down.
- It is not uniform, i.e. not all accounts that are amplifying relief requests are facing this (or, perhaps are not reporting/ realizing).
- The users are not getting any warning/ notice/ intimation that their story/ post has been pulled down. (I can at least confirm this for the people I know.)
- Both - public and non-public accounts are facing this, so mass reporting can be ruled out.
Also, this is different from being shadow-banned.
There is at least one instance of censorship of queer content (where the user had shared how they were being bullied and harassed.
But as clearly visible in this case, the user was intimated about the pull-down.
Needless to say, this type of pro-active censorship is detrimental to the digital rights of users. Not only stories and posts, but also direct messages of users are being erased. This level of censorship was previously unheard of in India (?) and this can prove to be a very bad precedent.